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TitleCombating the Proliferation of Small Arms And Light Weapons in West Africa: Handbook for the Training of Armed And Security Forces
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LanguageEnglish
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Combating the Proliferation of
Small Arms and Light Weapons

in West Africa:

Handbook for the
Training of Armed and Security Forces

Anatole Ayissi and lbrahima Sal1
Editors

UNlDlR
United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research

Geneva, Switzerland

UNITED NATIONS

Page 75

In these efforts carried out by the armed forces, we shall take Nigeria
as a case study, and endeavour to identify:

The causes of the proliferation of small arms;
The factors which encourage this proliferation;
The activities by means of which the proliferation of small arms is
expanding in Nigeria;
The composition of the armed forces whose task it is to combat
the proliferation of small arms;
The areas of cooperation between the armed forces and the
security forces;
The responsibilities of the government in efforts to combat the
proliferation of small arms and light weapons.

The proliferation of small arms in Nigeria has many causes. They
include, among others, trafficking in, local manufacture of, and theft of
weapons belonging to individuals or the authorities.

Nigeria has 770 kilometres of shared land border with the Republic of
Benin, around 1,500 kilometres with the Republic of the Niger, 1,700
kilometres with Cameroon and 90 kilometres with Chad. Nigeria also has
850 kilometres of maritime border in the Atlantic Ocean.

It would be hard to find any state in the world capable of effectively
controlling such extensive borders. Naturally, traffickers make use of these
porous borders to smuggle into Nigeria such different and dangerous
products as drugs and arms. The Deputy Comptroller-General of the
Nigeria Customs Service attributes the growth in trafficking to staff
shortages, the lack of modern surveillance equipment and a shortage of
vehicles. The smuggling of arms and ammunition into Nigeria has reached
disturbing levels. Sometimes these arms are imported into the country
hidden in clothing, vehicles or kitchen utensils. For example, during the first
week of August 1999, Nigerian customs intercepted six nationals of a West
African country in a canoe in Lagos with 75,000 rounds of ammunition and
bags containing rifles. Recent hauls by the customs service included 10,000

THE CAUSES OF THE PROLIFERATION OF S M A U ARMS IN NIGERIA

Trafficking in small arms

Page 76

magazines in lkeja (31 December 2001 ), as well as almost equally large
hauls in Seme Border Station (February 2002) and at TabidoIBudo in Kwara
state (March 2002). The Nigerian police also intercepted traffickers in
Alabata, near Abeokuta, seizing 26,500 cartridges hidden in 106 boxes. The
port of Warri in the Niger delta is also regarded as a centre for arms
smuggling and illegal trading. The traffickers operate from ships lying at
anchor on the high seas, using faster small boats for transfers. These figures
represent only a tiny sample of the total numbers of arms and ammunition
which enter Nigeria and circulate illegally.

In the 1970s and early 1 9 8 0 ~ ~ local arms production did not receive
enough attention in Nigeria. Arms manufactured locally were mostly used
for hunting and for traditional rites. However, the rise in the use of firearms
for violent crime suggests that locally produced arms have become a sound
and cheap alternative to imported weapons.

Many people supply criminals with weapons nowadays. Criminals also
obtain the arms they use by means of theft. Between 1998 and 2000, 196
weapons were registered as "lost" by the Nigerian police. In Owerri, the
customs service's armoury was broken into and a substantial quantity of
arms was removed by unknown persons. Investigations into this break-in
are still being carried out. Arms belonging to the military have also been
registered as "stolen" or "lost". The recent killing of 19 soldiers and the theft
of their weapons at Zaki Biam, a border town between [Benue] and Taraba,
was a case where legally acquired arms subsequently fell into the hands of
non-state actors who use them for nefarious purposes. However, it is
particularly encouraging that the arms in question in this specific case were
found and returned to the armed forces.

Aside from theft, there are reports of several attempts by civilians to
obtain military arms and ammunition. Some reports refer to corrupt officials
involved in these criminal activities.

Local arms production

Theft of arms belonging to individuals or to the statc

Page 150

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chimiques et biologiques

four.2004 The 2005 NPT Review Conference
quatre.2004 La confkrence d'examen du TNP de 2005

three02004 Human Rights, Human Security and Disarmament
trois.2004 Les droits de I'homme, la skcurite humaine et le

desarmement

two.2004 India and Pakistan: Peace by Piece
deux.2004 Inde et Pakistan : la paix, pas 2 pas

one 2004 Strengthening Disarmament and Security
un.2004 Renforcer le dksarmement et la skcuritk

four.2003 Women, Men, Peace and Security
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three02003 Disarmament, Development and Mine Action
trois.2003 Dksarmement, d6veloppement et action antimines

two.2003 Nuclear Terrorism
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four.2002 The CWC Review Conference
quatre.2002 La Confkrence d'examen de la convention sur les armes

chimiques

three02002 Children and Security
trois.2002 Les enfants et la skcuritk

two.2002 Human Security in Latin America

Disarmal I I?nt . _ . _ . . . , . _ . _. . . du d6sdrrnenient
(quarterly / trimestriel)

Page 151

deux.2002 La securit6 humaine en Am6rique latine

one.2002 NCOs as Partners
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four.2001 (R)Evolution in Military Affairs
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two*2001 The Middle East
deux.2001 Le Moyen-Orient

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two. 2000
deux.2000

three* 1999
trois. 1999

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The New Security Debate
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